FAITH THAT PLEASES GOD
Key Verse: 11:6
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone
who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards
those who earnestly seek him."
We are living in a pragmatic society. So most people are seeking
selfish benefits. God did not make us to be benefit-seeking, but to be
sacrificial. When we Hebrews 11 teaches us that we must have faith that
pleases God. Today let's study the general concept of faith and a few
examples of men who had faith that pleases God.
I. The character of faith (1)
Look at verse 1. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see." In short, faith is invisible, but it is
spiritual reality that we cannot see. This verse tells us that
Christian faith includes hope as an essential factor. In Christianity,
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one, though
each person is different. Likewise, faith, hope and love are one body,
though the meaning of each word is different. Where there is faith,
there is love. Where there is love, there is hope.
After the Fall, the world was cursed. But God made a plan of
world salvation. For this, God first chose a 75-year-old man called
Abram, to raise him as a blessing. At that time, Abram was full of
despair because he had no son to inherit his name, even though his
name, "Abram," meant a noble father. But God had faith in him. God said
to him, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I
will make your name great, and you will be a blessing" (Ge 12:2). God's
faith for Abram was to make him a blessing--ultimately for all peoples
of all nations (Ge 12:3). God's faith was indeed great. Abram might
have wished to have a son, but not so many sons as to amount to a
nation. He had no idea to become a source of blessing to others. What
did Abram say in response to God's calling? When Abram heard God's word
of promise, he did not wave his nose in the air. He did not protest,
saying, "You make me laugh." He simply believed and hoped that it would
be done as God had said. We also see in Jesus' life and work that he
had faith in God. For example, his disciples were a handful of
hillbillies and fishermen. They were clumps of human desires and a
conglomeration of various human weaknesses. Jesus had hope to raise
them as the best leaders who ever lived, particularly in world
salvation work and history. Jesus saw them with eyes of faith; despite
their demerits, they were great; their greatness was their learning
Before conversion, Paul had faith in Judaism. After conversion, he
had faith in God. When he had faith in God, God's hope became his very
own. In the hope of God, he had a plan to evangelize the whole world
through Roman roads. Finally he went to Rome in chains when he was old
and tired. Paul had to be tried before the Roman Emperor. But he did
not despair. He was sure of what he hoped for.
Paul believed that God had evangelized the Roman Empire. Paul never
saw the evangelization of Rome with his eyes, but it was done according
to his faith. Paul had faith in God, but if he had not done anything,
his faith would have been nothing but idealism. Paul rented an
apartment and had many one-to-one Bible studies, mostly with Jewish
immigrants at first, day and night. Some believed, most rejected his
teachings and ran away. Paul's ministry at Rome was not as prosperous
as he had expected. But he did not despair. History proves that Paul's
faith continues to speak to us. These days many people name their sons
Paul, and their daughters Pauline, while they name their dogs Nero. It
is because they want their children to be as great as Paul. Paul was
great because he had faith in God; more to the point, he believed
spiritual realities. He was a political victim of the times. But in the
sight of God, Paul was the top leader of the times because of his faith
As we know well, the opposite of faith is fear, and the opposite of
hope is despair. These days we see so many who are gripped with fear.
There is one family in which both husband and wife are medical doctors.
They are proud of their achievements and honor. They have everything
they want in the world. But they have no faith. So they are slaves of
fear. They are even afraid to drink Chicago water. Faith in God may not
seem beneficial, because faith does not give immediate practical
benefit. But in the final analysis, only faith in God gives true and
eternal benefit. Let's read verse 1 again. "Now faith is being sure of
what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
II. The foundation of faith (2,3)
First, creation faith. In order to have faith that pleases God, we must
know what the foundation of faith is. Look at verse 3. "By faith we
understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what
is seen was not made out of what was visible." Verse 3 is written
philosophically. But this verse is equivalent to Genesis 1:1, which
says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The
foundation of Christian faith is to believe that God made man and the
world. When people believe that God made man and the world, they become
godly people. When people do not believe that God made man and the
world, they become ungodly people. Godly people have the fear of God
and the good integrity of humankind. Ungodly people only have the
survival of the fittest.
Throughout history, thoughtful men and women have searched for the
origin of all things. They have made endless effort to know "the First
Cause" so that they might come to have a right view of man. For many
centuries men devoted themselves to the study of ontology and
epistemology in order to know the root of the origin of all things.
However, in the last part of the 18th century, men gave up the search
for the origin and meaning of man's being. As a result, they came to
ignore the spiritual world as well as spiritual realities. They began
to see man from an existential approach. They dealt mainly with man's
inner problems, such as anxiety and the fear of death and so on. In
short, they reduced man's thinking from the spiritual level to the
physical level. When they did so, their way of thinking began to
digress downward. They became pragmatic. Pragmatism is not a
philosophy. It is an idea which completely ignores the question "why?"
Pragmatism lets people justify their sinful behavior.
No one has ever been able to give a clear answer to where the world
came from, or what the meaning of man's existence is. But the Bible
says that God made man and the world. Man did not come into being
through a process of evolution. When we have creation faith, we can
understand that the universe was formed by God's command. We can also
understand that "what is seen was not made out of what was visible." By
faith we understand that God made each person with a definite purpose
and absolute meaning of life, and, most importantly, God made man and
the world for his own glory. Suppose man was made through the process
of evolution. Then man's life would be nothing but a by-product of
"chance," "accidents," or "a joke." But by faith we believe that God
made man and the world, and that among God's creatures, I am number
Second, God made man and the world out of nothing. Look at verse 3
again. "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's
command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."
This verse indicates that God made this world out of nothing. Our God
is the Almighty God who made all things out of nothing. It is easy for
us to assemble a ready-made desk or cook some instant food. But making
something out of nothing is beyond imagination. But our God is the
Almighty God who made man and the world out of nothing; this is
creation faith. Those who have creation faith can say like King David,
"God is a stronghold, a high mountain and our fortress."
Look at verse 2. "This is what the ancients were commended for."
Many people of the past thought that their generation was the worst;
so, they could not live by faith. But this is not true. Abel's time was
worse than the present time. Enoch's time was worse than the present
time. Noah's time was worse than the present time. People usually
complain about their life situation or their times in order to make an
excuse for their ungodly lives. But in the spiritual world such good
excuses are totally useless and empty. What matters is one's faith.
Always, those who had faith in God were those who pleased God, despite
their situation or times.
III. The faith of Abel, Enoch and Noah (4-7)
First, Abel's faith. Look at verse 4. "By faith Abel offered God a
better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a
righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he
still speaks, even though he is dead." God preferred Abel's gift to
that of Cain. It seems that God is unfair. But Hebrews tells us that
Abel's offering was accepted because of his faith.
After the Fall, in the time of Abel, the relationship between God
and men had been completely broken, and human beings were relativistic
toward God. In short, men were in the state of being God's enemies. Men
lived in sin and under Satan's torment. Since men were gripped by
Satan's fear, to approach the Holy God was harder than dying itself.
Because of their sins, people in the time of Abel could not bear even
to hear the word "God," not to mention to come to God.
But by faith Abel approached God. By faith Abel went to God with an
offering. It was like a son who goes to his daddy with a Christmas
card. In this way, Abel opened the way to God for himself as well as
for all men. God was pleased by Abel and commended him as a righteous
man. His older brother Cain went to God with a superficial offering,
thinking he was doing God a favor. God did not accept his offering.
Later, because of jealousy, Cain hated his brother Abel and beat him to
death. Still, Abel is not dead. As the author says, "...by faith he
still speaks, even though he is dead." He still tells us that we can
come to God and have peace with God by faith, overcoming our fear of
Second, Enoch's faith. Let's look at verse 5. "By faith Enoch was taken
from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be
found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was
commended as one who pleased God." Genesis 5:24 says, "Enoch walked
with God." In this one verse, Enoch's life is summed up. After the
Fall, the world was full of fallen men. The world was filled up with
God-haters. No one recognized God as God or walked with God. But one
man, Enoch, walked with God. He was the only friend of God. He was the
watchman of God for his times. Enoch was a lonely man, living among
fallen men. They hated him because his holy pilgrimage seemed to offend
them, and it hurt their sinful pride. He was the object of jokes and
ridicule from fallen men of his time. They hated Enoch as much as they
hated God. They thought he was not fit to live because he walked with
God. So they searched for him in order to destroy him.
Enoch's life was in great danger. He was running for his life. But
he found no hiding place in the world. So God took him to heaven so
that he might not experience a cruel death at the hands of God-haters.
Because he walked with God as God's friend, he was commended by God. We
must overcome sinful peer pressure in order to live a life of faith.
Third, Noah's faith. Noah is another example of a man who had faith
that pleases God. Look at verse 7. "By faith Noah, when warned about
things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By
his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness
that comes by faith." The times of Noah, the times of Sodom and
Gomorrah, and the times of the end of the Roman Empire were the times
of amorality. The people of Noah's times lived according to their
sinful nature. They were e ungodly; they were hedonistic; they were
But grandfather Noah, one person, had holy fear of God. When God
commanded him to build a huge ark, he obeyed the word of God
absolutely. In short, Noah honored God as God and respected God's word
as God's word. But the people of the times mocked him, saying, "He's a
dummy. He has a screw loose." Their accusations sounded as if Noah were
a criminal simply because he lived a life of faith. But he was not
condemned; rather he condemned them when God judged them by the flood.
Noah believed that God is living and that his promises are true. He
paid more attention to God's words than to the criticisms of people. As
a result, Noah became an heir of righteousness, while they all
perished. Noah listened to the word of God in holy fear. Because of
this, he pleased God and was commended by God.
Fourth, we also can please God with faith. Look at verse 6. "And
without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes
to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him." This verse teaches us two things about how to have
faith that pleases God.
Firstly, we must believe that God exists. There are many people who
attend churches. But not many people believe that God exists. There is
a saying that prayer is the measure of faith. One young man studies the
Bible and comes to worship service regularly. But he does not pray with
a clear prayer topic. So he did not experience God's answer to prayer.
One day he began to ask, "Does God exist?" On the other hand, there is
a man of God who believes that God exists and that God answers prayer.
By faith he prayed for a young couple who had been childless for nine
years. His prayer was not for them to have one baby, but to have twin
babies. Inspired by his faith, the couple prayed fervently. God
answered their believing prayer and gave them twins, one daughter and
one son. They know that God who answers prayer exists. How can we
believe that God exists? We must live a holy life like Abel, Enoch, and
Secondly, we must seek God's reward only. Many say, "I don't want
any reward." But everybody is striving to receive a certain reward
from a certain person. Worldly rewards are no more than gray hairs and
funeral services. But those who live for the glory of God receive
eternal life and the kingdom of God as their reward.
Today we learned that we must have faith that pleases God. We must
believe that God exists, that God created man and the world and that
God rewards those who earnestly seek him. May God help us to have faith
that pleases God.